ATLANTA - An expanded marketing alliance Delta Air Lines Inc. has reached with Alaska Air Group Inc. will help supply passengers to support new international routes Delta plans to launch next year, the carriers said Monday. Delta's chief, meanwhile, said the two carriers have not had any discussions about a combination.
Delta and Alaska Air said they will offer customers connecting service to more than 50 destinations to-and-from Los Angeles, more than 70 destinations to-and-from Seattle, more than 30 destinations to-and-from Portland, Ore., and nearly 20 destinations to-and-from San Francisco.
When fully phased in, Delta and its international partners are expected to be the main provider to Alaska Air customers of international service to-and-from those four U.S. cities, Delta spokesman Kent Landers said.
The carriers said in a statement that the network will provide new customers to support two new long-haul international routes from the West Coast in 2009 - Seattle to Beijing, effective March 1, and Los Angeles to Sao Paulo, Brazil, effective spring 2009. The Beijing route will be operated by Delta subsidiary Northwest Airlines, while the Brazil route, subject to regulatory approval, will be operated by Delta.
Delta said the new routes will complement existing long-haul international service from the West Coast offered by Delta, including Northwest-operated flights. Delta acquired Northwest for $2.8 billion in stock on Oct. 29.
Delta is the world's biggest carrier. Alaska Air operates Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, which together serve more than 90 cities through their network in Alaska, Hawaii, the continental U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Atlanta-based Delta's marketing alliance with Seattle-based Alaska Air was launched in 2004, and there has been a relationship of more than 20 years between Alaska, Horizon and Northwest. Currently, code-sharing by Delta, including Northwest, extends to more than 100 markets served by Alaska Air, including Horizon, and code-sharing by Alaska Air extends to more than 30 markets served by Delta. Currently, Delta frequent fliers can book award tickets on Alaska Air flights that carry the Delta code.
Delta's announcement Monday involves enhancements to those agreements. By the end of 2009, Delta and Alaska/Horizon will allow members of their respective frequent flier programs to enjoy elite benefits on each other's flights. The arrangement also includes reciprocal use of airport VIP lounges.
Under code-sharing arrangements, one airline puts its name or code on a flight operated by the other, allowing it to sell tickets on the other's flights. The carriers, in turn, generally share that revenue. Code-sharing is considered a low-risk way for airlines to expand their networks without the added cost of more planes and employees.